Congressional Panel Discussion - January 28, 2009

Transportation Challenges Facing the New Administration

aerial view of highways in Colorado, photo courtesy of


William T. Coleman, Jr.
James H. Burnley, IV
Rodney E. Slater


Martin Wachs
RAND Corporation


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Light refreshments will be provided


Note room change to 210 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

The RAND Corporation will convene on Capitol Hill a distinguished panel of former U.S. Secretaries of Transportation. They will consider the key policy challenges facing the new administration which takes office at a critical moment for transportation policy. Transportation programs are under fiscal and political stress and right now there is both need and opportunity to reshape transportation policy. Congress will address these many aspects of transportation policy by drafting a new authorization bill during the coming year. Virtually every interest group is insisting that we can no longer rely on "business as usual," even as they stake out their competing views.

The panel will engage in a lively give and take followed by questions as they challenge one another regarding the most pressing problems facing the new administration in the realm of transportation policy:

  • Economic stimulus and financial recovery plans will emphasize infrastructure renewal and transportation investments just as the Federal Transportation Trust Fund comes perilously close to failing and contention over the "earmarking" of large public works projects becomes the focus of national policy debates.
  • Aging highways and bridges, crowded runways and airspace, the need for improved freight systems to improve international competitiveness, struggling public transit and opportunities for intercity rail all combine with concerns over energy security and the role of transportation systems in addressing global climate change.
  • Several national commissions and committees have issued recommendations revealing impressive similarities and dramatic differences in potential directions for change. Congress will address these many aspects of transportation policy by drafting a new authorization bill during the coming year.

The Panelists will include:

William T. Coleman, Jr. who was U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 1975 though 1977 in the administration of President Gerald Ford.

James H. Burnley, IV who served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 1987 to 1989 in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, after having served as Deputy Secretary and as General Counsel of the Department.

Rodney E. Slater who was U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 1997 to 2000 in the administration of President William Clinton, after having served as Federal Highway Administrator.

The Moderator will be:

Martin Wachs who is Director of RAND's program in Transportation, Space and Technology. Prior to joining RAND at the beginning of 2006, Dr. Wachs was Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations webpage, contact or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.